Monday, January 09, 2012

The Naked Vine does Simply Naked

On the heels of my review of the Dreaming Tree wines, Megan at Constellation (thanks again!) asked me if I’d like to give the “Simply Naked” line of wines a try. The connection, after all, is reasonably obvious. I said that I’d be happy to give them a run. Any excuse for more of The Naked.

Simply Naked markets itself as the “nation’s first complete line of unoaked wines.” I thought this was an interesting twist. I appreciated when California started easing back on the heavy oak on Chardonnay, but I hadn’t given much thought to what might happen if a winemaker did, say, cabernet sauvignon entirely in stainless steel.

The wines are produced with grapes sourced from vineyards across California. The wines are the brainchild of winemaker Ryan Flock, who is also the winemaker at Talus and Elkhorn Peak wineries.

These wines should be fairly easy to locate. All of them have a suggested retail of around $10. Here’s my thoughts on this lineup:

Simply Naked 2010 Unoaked Chardonnay – This is a fairly straightforward unoaked chardonnay. The nose is floral with a just little bit of citrus. On the palate, the dominant flavor I got was melon with just a tad of earthiness. The finish is slightly alkaline and has a touch of honeylike sweetness from some residual sugar. I thought it was a decent enough wine as an everyday selection, although I wouldn’t call it outstanding. 

Simply Naked 2010 Unoaked Merlot – At first sniff, I was greeting with a big, plummy, “traditional fruity merlot” nose. I completely expected this to be a straight-up fruit bomb. When I got a taste of it, it turned out to be much more subtle than a lot of inexpensive California merlot. I thought it had some nice dark fruit flavors and solid, nicely balanced tannins. The finish is smoky and evenly dry. I really liked this wine, to be perfectly honest. Exceptional with chocolate, too. A keeper.

Simply Naked 2010 Unoaked Pinot Grigio – Dropping the old snoot into the class gave me a nose of lime and peaches. The body is heavier than I expected. There’s certainly a little weight – perhaps more in line with what I’d expect from a sauvignon blanc. There seems to be a bit of residual sugar, which likely adds to the weight. It still comes across as reasonably crisp with flavors of lime and apple juice. The finish is fairly light, fruity, and has an interesting hint of smoke. Interesting to me, but probably not for everyone.

Simply Naked 2010 Unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon – Like the merlot did, the nose made me brace myself for fruit-bomb land because of the big plum and blackberry scents. The body is more tame. The fruit on the palate is somewhat subdued, moving from blackberries into tannin and hanging out there for awhile. It seemed a bit imbalanced, though, so I gave it some air for awhile and came back a couple of hours later. Unfortunately, even with air, there’s much the same flavor – fruit forward, then the tannic tug at the end. Fairly simple and plonkish. Not my favorite.

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